If I’m working in the office – which is only a few miles from home -Â before leaving toÂ do battle with the evening commuter traffic on the mountain bike I invariably call home to see if I need to pick anything up.
The call can go any of a number of ways.
If a young girl’s voice answer’s the phone, she is probably answering because my other half is already cooking, and is elbow-deep in flour, or some other cooking ingredient. I will then ask to speak to my other half, and will either face the inquisition, or wait while a hassled grown up voice mutters things in the background.
If my other half answers the phone, I know at “Hello” what I might be facing when I walk in half an hour later. Sometimes I get an impatient “hello?”, sometimes a happy “hello!”, and sometimes a “what?”. The ones I fear are the ones where I heard a quiet, downcast “hello…”. They are almost always caused by some kind of incident involving our eldest daughter, Miss 15.
I’m not entirely sure if the mayhem we have experienced over the last year or so isÂ common to the parents of all teenage girls, but given conversations with friends I fear it very well may be. It’s not so much the nastiness, the lack of patience, or the unpredictability from day to day that gets me – it’s the total and utter lack of empathy. You could be on fire, but if that prevents you from solving whatever tonight’s drama is (no clean shirt, no clean leggings, run out of nail varnish, no chocolate in the cupboard, no fizzy drinks, etc), it seems to instantly mark you out as a despicable enemy that should be treated with utter contempt.
So yes… I typically know at “Hello” how the entire evening is going to pan-out before I even set off towards the house. People are full of advice, and say it will get better – but those people tend to be the ones without children.